My husband told me he found an enormous praying mantis on our driveway the other day. “It’s about to die,” he said. “It’s barely moving.” He moved it from the driveway to the shelter of the porch. It didn’t move for 24 hours, so he brought it inside to show me the beautiful but dead insect.
“Oh *&#@!,” Carlton eloquently said. The “dead” bug started moving in his hand! We realized that it was moving more due to being in the warm of indoors. But what to do? Keep it? It was surely dying due to old age and the climate combined. We put a plastic box over it and decided to decide after watching a movie.
We came upstairs to Sunny barking at something. The mantis had escaped the container and was on the carpet, flaring its wings at the little beast barking at it. We rushed to help the mantis with her forearms tangled in carpet fibers. I found a spare aquarium (no surprise there) and we protected the mantis from our many predator pets. Carlton made a dish of water for her and I googled what mantises eat. But where to find live bugs this time of year?
Amy’s house after dinner! We’d been at a fundraiser dinner and talked about the mantis on the way home. The best part was that none of the three of us questioned the silliness of caring about feeding a dying wild bug. We gathered carcasses and even a live spider or two into a bag.
We put it all in the aquarium, and while the mantis turned her head to look at us inquisitively, she displayed no interest in food. I even used a chopstick to nudge a live spider under her nose. She looked at it, but made no move at all. She was almost dead. As expected, she died within three days. She didn’t eat or drink anything. She knew it was the right time to go, and she died without being squished by a car or something.
I’ve always had a soft spot for living things, especially sentient ones. When I was a child, my parents bought me Pets in a Jar and I devoured the book. Even bugs I never collected were fascinating. I gained so much respect for caring for them and knowing what they needed (that book even made me think planaria infecting my aquaria were cool). I still have the book. My dad and I looked at earthworms in his garden, watching them wriggle in my hands before I set them free.
My subscription to Ranger Rick ensured a steady stream of new creatures and new knowledge. I loved them all- even slugs, especially spiders- and I still don’t kill spiders in my home. And not only is all of this true, it’s one of the things I really like about myself.
So alas, poor mantis, we barely knew ye, but we enjoyed meeting you and hopefully you enjoyed having food and water as you shuffled off this mortal coil.
Shakespeare + bugs. Up next: Britney haiku.